Who can school me on William Onyeabor?

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OK, here's the Nigeria 70 writeup:

William Onyeabor - Better Change Your Mind 8.13

Taken from the Wilfilms Records LP Atomic Bomb (WRLP 1002). Composed and Arranged by William Onyeabor. Publishing: Copyright Control 1978 Wilfilms Records Ltd. Licensed courtesy of William Onyeabor. Personnel unknown.

William Onyeabor studied cinematography in Russia for many years, returning to Nigeria in the mid-70s to start his own Wilfilms music label and to set up a music and film production studio. He recorded a number of hit songs in Nigeria during the 70s, the biggest of which was "Atomic Bomb" in 1978. "Better Change Your Mind" is taken from the same album, and, as well as slating the power-crazed nations of the world, the second half settles into a unique slice of stripped down spacey, lo-fi funk which is unlike any other Nigerian music being made at the time. William has now been crowned a High Chief in Enugu, where he lives today as a successful businessman working on government contracts and running his own flour mill.

ZR (teenagequiet), Friday, 30 December 2005 14:55 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

That is one of the most intriguing artist bios that I have ever read.

Matthew C Perpetua (inca), Friday, 30 December 2005 21:00 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

three weeks pass...
this went for $100

ace cover art, he looks almost like a one man band:


brokeback titty sanskrit (sanskrit), Sunday, 22 January 2006 23:55 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

one month passes...
one year passes...

that is not a cheesy dj remix! it's by the scientist and it rocks!

elan, Sunday, 25 November 2007 02:52 (eleven years ago) Permalink

one month passes...

lol @ myself two years ago. actually atomic bomb surfaces quite a bit, but at o_O prices.

this record is even more insane, check out the sound samples before the guy pulls them:


sanskrit, Thursday, 3 January 2008 22:09 (eleven years ago) Permalink

for posterity's sake:


William Onyeabor - Anything you sow
Stupid rare mid 80s Nigerian proto detroit techno funk... private pressing!
Label: Wilfilms WLP033
Year: 1985/1986?

Detroit techno / electro recorded in Nigeria in the mid 1980's on analog synths? Sounding like it comes straight off the latest M.I.A. record? Yes that's what this is all about... add in some sweet female singer choruses and the moralistic lyrics of mr Onyeabor, and you got an essential record that is waiting to be rediscovered and compiled! This album NEVER shows up so here is your one chance to own it.

You may know William Onyeabor from his tracks on afro funk compilations such as the great jam 'Better change your mind' which appeared on Nigeria 70 and on 'World Psychedelic Classics 3: Love's a Real Thing'. The original album 'Atomic bomb' is a popular and expensive item on Ebay. His lp's are hard to find as he released them on his own record label, Wilfilms. Another of his records that shows up sometimes is 'Tomorrow'. Both albums are heavy afro disco boogie bombs.

William Onyeabor has released at least one more record though, and it's so obscure that I haven't found any references in google or previous Ebay sales. 'Atomic bomb' was already an experimental album on which Onyeabor plays around with his collection of synths. But on 'Anything you sow' he really goes all-out to create a musical landscape that proved to be far ahead of its time.

The album cover (which looks more like mid 70s) shows Onyeabor behind a huge collection of synths and other hardware, including the Moog which was an expensive gear at the time. On this album, the music is all produced with analog synths, even percussion.

The effect is mind blowing... 20 years down the line its clear that Onyeabor was way ahead of his time, the sounds he created here are unlike anything else I have heard coming from Africa. It's more closely related to Detroit techno or electro but in reality he may just have been influenced by Kraftwerk, Yellow Magic Orchestra and the like. The slight 'out of this world' sound of the fragile synth (Moog, Elka etc) melodies are accentuated by the sweet chants of William and his background singers. This piece of vinyl is just waiting to be sampled or re-edited, it would fit nicely on a Moodymann or Theo Parrish re-edit 12 inch. Three out of four tracks are in this style, the fourth is a ballad which is less interesting. Just check out the audio samples above.

A1. When the going is smooth & good
A2. This kind of world
B1. Anything you sow
B2. Everyday

sanskrit, Thursday, 3 January 2008 22:14 (eleven years ago) Permalink

wow. i would have bid on that. maybe not 124 dollars, though.

elan, Thursday, 3 January 2008 23:17 (eleven years ago) Permalink

it would fit nicely on a Moodymann or Theo Parrish re-edit 12 inch

yeah, judging from those samples this is true.

sanskrit, Friday, 4 January 2008 02:36 (eleven years ago) Permalink

four months pass...

wow. i would have bid on that. maybe not 124 dollars, though.

-- elan, Thursday, 3 January 2008 23:17 (4 months ago) Link

lol that shit finished at like $300 actually. and the audio samples were beardo as fuck.

sanskrit, Thursday, 8 May 2008 01:05 (ten years ago) Permalink

this thread is like a time capsule for me

sanskrit, Thursday, 8 May 2008 01:05 (ten years ago) Permalink

this went for $100

ace cover art, he looks almost like a one man band:

-- brokeback titty sanskrit (sanskrit), Sunday, January 22, 2006 6:55 PM (2 years ago) Bookmark Link

LOL am i pretend britishes?

sanskrit, Thursday, 8 May 2008 01:06 (ten years ago) Permalink

ok, another has surfaced, this time with music samples:


-- gritty sanskrit (sanskrit), Sunday, March 12, 2006 3:51 PM (2 years ago) Bookmark Link

so a month ago i got a clean Atomic Bomb off a french dude on eBay. wasn't cheap but wasn't painful. the weird thing is i have listened to Better Change Your Mind so many times over the years that it was not that big a deal. Beautiful Baby is totally different than on an iPod. what was once overly long turned into a lilting ballad that is far too short.

sanskrit, Thursday, 8 May 2008 01:25 (ten years ago) Permalink

btw i am not a breakhead

sanskrit, Thursday, 8 May 2008 01:25 (ten years ago) Permalink

btw this revive is courtesy of a Body and Soul Scientist remix that i missed on dmr's blog. like 2 years later it appears in my open slsk window.

sanskrit, Thursday, 8 May 2008 01:26 (ten years ago) Permalink

I just downloaded the Atomic Bomb LP. You can find it easily if you look. Sound quality not very good though

Billy Pilgrim, Thursday, 8 May 2008 01:29 (ten years ago) Permalink

that's what hipped me to onyeabor

elan, Thursday, 8 May 2008 02:05 (ten years ago) Permalink

btw, does anything you sow ever pop up on slsk?

elan, Thursday, 8 May 2008 02:06 (ten years ago) Permalink

youtube clip from "when the going is smooth and good": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HleCMcs_ybg

this deserves wider exposure

elan, Thursday, 8 May 2008 02:26 (ten years ago) Permalink

wow. i would have bid on that. maybe not 124 dollars, though.

-- elan, Thursday, 3 January 2008 23:17 (4 months ago) Link

lol that shit finished at like $300 actually. and the audio samples were beardo as fuck.

-- sanskrit, Wednesday, May 7, 2008 9:05 PM (1 hour ago) Bookmark Link

oh damn dude that is the very audio clip from the auction. or the buyer shared it (yeah right). smart move someone moved it to a youtube for momentary posterity.

sanskrit, Thursday, 8 May 2008 03:07 (ten years ago) Permalink

it sold for like $17 on dutch ebay in march

elan, Thursday, 8 May 2008 03:19 (ten years ago) Permalink

judging by all the youtube and forum comments about "when the going is smooth & good", it seems to have been a nigerian radio hit. the album is apparently available from street vendors (on cassette, i guess). so why can i not find it anywhere?

elan, Thursday, 8 May 2008 15:02 (ten years ago) Permalink

are you sure it didn't go for 17 euros? because that is about $300 american.

sanskrit, Thursday, 8 May 2008 21:11 (ten years ago) Permalink

oh, you're right. 16.75 euro. that's still only $25.79 at today's exchange rate.


elan, Thursday, 8 May 2008 22:32 (ten years ago) Permalink

if i knew dutch i might make the winner an offer....

elan, Thursday, 8 May 2008 22:32 (ten years ago) Permalink

i don't know about grading record sleeves, so if that cover isn't actually G-, i could see the price dropping. but a G- record grade would sound like that cover looks, so maybe the seller knows what's up.

elan, Thursday, 8 May 2008 22:34 (ten years ago) Permalink

one month passes...

he posted it for me! i didn't see it for one (1) month!


elan, Tuesday, 17 June 2008 21:11 (ten years ago) Permalink

the hi-hats do something amazing in the sixth minute. this is the bomb.

elan, Tuesday, 17 June 2008 21:18 (ten years ago) Permalink

four months pass...

this is sick: http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=140278397762

my rss hasn't seen that title in four years
sick sound clip, and my snipe won't even register now / won't meet reserve anyway

sanskrit, Wednesday, 5 November 2008 18:55 (ten years ago) Permalink

nine months pass...

every couple months i'll trawl through the blogs in hopes that more of his stuff has surfaced (beyond the Atomic Bomb lp and two or three other scratchy tracks), but still no luck. and the copies that do show up on ebay seem to go way outside my budget. i'm led to believe some of his records were hits in Nigeria, so how hard can it be to get/hear more of his stuff? guh.

grey davies (city worker), Friday, 28 August 2009 18:27 (nine years ago) Permalink

four months pass...

well, this is at least something http://dailyleftover.blogspot.com/2009/12/tribute-to-william-onyeabor.html

city worker, Tuesday, 26 January 2010 16:27 (nine years ago) Permalink

really enjoying this, thanks. so far i'd only been able to find the atomic bomb LP.

it seems he released at least 8 LPs (Discogs plus Crashes in Love), meaning we (I) have heard roughly 14 of 32 total tracks. which is not too bad for some Nigerian private press stuff. only 1982's Hypertension seems to be completely unrepresented.

it would be very nice to have this on vinyl in all its artifact-y goodness, but yeah those prices are crazy.

fakeducks, Tuesday, 26 January 2010 20:11 (nine years ago) Permalink

three months pass...

Here is a link to this William Onyeabor's "Atomic Bomb" CD.Check it Out!


MyAfricanBargains, Wednesday, 19 May 2010 01:33 (eight years ago) Permalink

two months pass...

Just got this email:

Question: do you guys still sell many 12"? The reason I am asking is because Luaka Bop will be releasing a CD by William Onyeabor in the early part of next year. But here's the dilemma - the songs are like 12 minutes long each. We are thinking about releasing them on a group of 12" singles one release after another (collect 'em all!) and then compiling everything on a CD for a slightly later release.

factcheckr, Friday, 13 August 2010 17:54 (eight years ago) Permalink

nine months pass...

in light of Daphni/ Caribou sampling Onyeabor's "When the Going..." i was wondering if factcheckr ever heard any more about these 12"s form Luaka Bop?

beta blog, Saturday, 21 May 2011 00:39 (seven years ago) Permalink

one month passes...


this is one of the sickest tunes i've ever heard.. someone reissue this fucker on vinyl!

Night Nurse with Wound (Jack Battery-Pack), Thursday, 7 July 2011 10:43 (seven years ago) Permalink

this guy featured on 69's all hits radio show iirc, some slinky jams

neo-realist shit i ever wrote (schlump), Thursday, 7 July 2011 10:58 (seven years ago) Permalink

B-D urc!

69, Monday, 11 July 2011 19:50 (seven years ago) Permalink

this is what I was just told re: luaka bop: "it is supposed to happen" but no date yet

allday, Tuesday, 12 July 2011 04:44 (seven years ago) Permalink

Oh weird, randomly I just started getting into this. this month. "Fantastic Man" is my favorite tho

phil-two, Tuesday, 12 July 2011 05:32 (seven years ago) Permalink

two months pass...

The B-side to Good Name is like the best song I've heard all year:


Conan The Asshander (Doran), Friday, 16 September 2011 21:50 (seven years ago) Permalink

someone reissue this fucker on vinyl!

yeah just waiting for whatever it is that'll presumably soon come out to represent this guy. you would think only a matter of time

and my soul said you can't go there (schlump), Friday, 16 September 2011 22:12 (seven years ago) Permalink

five months pass...
one year passes...

2CD compilation out in October on Luaka Bop

Soft Opening, Saturday, 27 July 2013 00:49 (five years ago) Permalink

oh awesome! 3xlp! & a (llliimmmiiittteedddd) good name reish!


szarkasm (schlump), Wednesday, 31 July 2013 03:48 (five years ago) Permalink

Pre-orders now up... http://luakabop.com/onyeabor/

Barnaby, Hardly, Monday, 12 August 2013 15:04 (five years ago) Permalink

one month passes...

The new comp is fantastic. Shame he retired when he did because When the Going is Smooth and Good from his last album (the one that Daphni sampled) is blowing my mind.


Deafening silence (DL), Tuesday, 17 September 2013 15:51 (five years ago) Permalink

one month passes...

This is fantastic

there's no camera to capture that yelping moment! (forksclovetofu), Thursday, 17 October 2013 21:01 (five years ago) Permalink

as someone who has all his records, i'd like to say 1) his music is NOT afrobeat, 2) there are so many gems in the back catalogue that it's almost ridiculous and 3) if anyone has a problem with anything he does being out of tune (which it often is!), then really, give up now as you are completely and utterly missing the point.

stirmonster, Saturday, 11 October 2014 05:26 (four years ago) Permalink

The out of tune and crap production is part of his charm!

Moka, Saturday, 11 October 2014 05:54 (four years ago) Permalink

oh gosh, the point is it sounds zany, i get it. it's mainly atomic bomb that's just so egregiously out of tune to the point where i can't ignore it/focus on the sound/vibe or whatever.

lo fi production is fine.

and i thought afrobeat was funky music from nigeria with unison horns and chanting and stuff, which a lot of this is??

brimstead, Saturday, 11 October 2014 22:08 (four years ago) Permalink

i think of afrobeat as a more funk-based music which onyeabor is not

I dunno. (amateurist), Saturday, 11 October 2014 23:00 (four years ago) Permalink

Yeah I described him as afro-space-disco-soul to someone which is not accurate really but I couldn't think of a better description.

sink floyd (GOTT PUNCH II HAWKWINDZ), Saturday, 11 October 2014 23:02 (four years ago) Permalink

wtf original 'Atomic Bomb' is best track on the comp

I can't make my waterface turn into a *fart* (Sufjan Grafton), Monday, 20 October 2014 05:06 (four years ago) Permalink

chacun a sonyeabor

I dunno. (amateurist), Tuesday, 21 October 2014 05:12 (four years ago) Permalink

one month passes...

Holy smokes!! A box set!

JacobSanders, Saturday, 22 November 2014 22:10 (four years ago) Permalink

Who can school me on William Onyeabor?

the late great, Sunday, 23 November 2014 20:35 (four years ago) Permalink


Chewshabadoo, Wednesday, 26 November 2014 21:50 (four years ago) Permalink

i can't figure out if they actually had access to master tapes or if these are just slick needledrops.

I dunno. (amateurist), Wednesday, 26 November 2014 21:56 (four years ago) Permalink

Are you listening to the CDs? Maybe the guy in Milan had the tapes.

Noel Emits, Thursday, 27 November 2014 00:15 (four years ago) Permalink

Just bought both of the box sets for my christmas present. Asked my wife to wrap them up for me but I may either need to torrent the files or open them early, the Spotify version of Who Is is too short.

brotherlovesdub, Tuesday, 2 December 2014 18:10 (four years ago) Permalink


groovypanda, Wednesday, 3 December 2014 15:10 (four years ago) Permalink

...but when does it end?!

Pooja Bhatt's erotic thriller Jism 2 (GOTT PUNCH II HAWKWINDZ), Thursday, 4 December 2014 00:14 (four years ago) Permalink

The spines of the CDs in the box set say "remastered in NYC," for what it's worth.

Pooja Bhatt's erotic thriller Jism 2 (GOTT PUNCH II HAWKWINDZ), Saturday, 6 December 2014 20:15 (four years ago) Permalink

Vinyl says the same.

brotherlovesdub, Saturday, 6 December 2014 22:36 (four years ago) Permalink

one month passes...


iggwilv azaelea (sanskrit), Thursday, 8 January 2015 01:19 (four years ago) Permalink

Luaka Poop? What a vicious attack that really showed somebody somewhere something. Burning my boxset now.

pelvic slang (GOTT PUNCH II HAWKWINDZ), Thursday, 8 January 2015 03:12 (four years ago) Permalink

tbf "luaka poop" is pretty funny

shmup....smug....shmub....shmug.... (forksclovetofu), Thursday, 8 January 2015 05:12 (four years ago) Permalink

Luaka Plop

bob seger's silver bullet gland (sic), Thursday, 8 January 2015 05:18 (four years ago) Permalink

Pooaka Bop

contenderizer, Thursday, 8 January 2015 05:29 (four years ago) Permalink

Cloaca Bop

pelvic slang (GOTT PUNCH II HAWKWINDZ), Thursday, 8 January 2015 05:49 (four years ago) Permalink

two weeks pass...

what was that vimeo link?

akm, Friday, 23 January 2015 03:20 (four years ago) Permalink

i kinda neglected to fully check this guy out but "love me now" off the new one they're reissuing is one of my favourite songs at the moment


flopson, Friday, 23 January 2015 03:27 (four years ago) Permalink

one year passes...


Matt DC, Wednesday, 18 January 2017 10:32 (two years ago) Permalink



groovypanda, Wednesday, 18 January 2017 10:58 (two years ago) Permalink

RIP :(

Le Bateau Ivre, Wednesday, 18 January 2017 12:09 (two years ago) Permalink

I know I should always be wary of the artist-focused thread revives, but I honestly thought this would be "more rare stuff reissued" or something. :(

Michael Jones, Wednesday, 18 January 2017 13:11 (two years ago) Permalink

Oh man, RIP.

kornrulez6969, Wednesday, 18 January 2017 15:47 (two years ago) Permalink


Dominique, Wednesday, 18 January 2017 16:19 (two years ago) Permalink

rip :(

Mordy, Wednesday, 18 January 2017 17:33 (two years ago) Permalink


Karl Malone, Wednesday, 18 January 2017 17:34 (two years ago) Permalink

putting on atomic bomb in memory

Mordy, Wednesday, 18 January 2017 17:34 (two years ago) Permalink

RIP, dude was a genius.

szyslakial moescreancy (GOTT PUNCH II HAWKWINDZ), Thursday, 19 January 2017 06:28 (two years ago) Permalink

RIP, so many great echo-dub dancefloor memories.

Jersey Al (Albert R. Broccoli), Thursday, 19 January 2017 07:26 (two years ago) Permalink

i was listening to the box set last night and thinking that it was really fortunate that he lived to see his music get a revival and get acknowledged as a musical genius. a few years earlier and he could've missed all of this & never known that he was going to be appreciated by a whole new audience of fans which would've been tragic bc he truly was an incredible talent + genius and deserved to know how much his work was loved.

Mordy, Thursday, 19 January 2017 14:05 (two years ago) Permalink

His relationship with his music seemed conflicted at best though, he actively avoided talking about it and I got the sense it was a source of embarrassment or shame to him in his later life.

Matt DC, Thursday, 19 January 2017 14:52 (two years ago) Permalink

for sure tho i thought at some pt he said he was working on new music? maybe in that bbc interview

Mordy, Thursday, 19 January 2017 14:54 (two years ago) Permalink

Wow, I remember first hearing his music through ILM back in the day.

I've felt so much joy in sharing it with my friends since then.

Now I'm inspired to share his tunes with new friends.

elan, Friday, 20 January 2017 01:12 (two years ago) Permalink

four months pass...

i guess his children or his church is getting that Feist 1,2,3,4 iTunes ad placement money.

4chan marshall (sanskrit), Wednesday, 24 May 2017 01:44 (one year ago) Permalink

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